Tag Archives: Tuscany

Some great reviews and comments for our little Rosso…

Well to say that I am chuffed that our Fratelli D’Anna Rosso Di Montalcino 2013 has been well received by wine critics and wine lovers is s little bit of an understatement. I always knew this wine was good, and to see this translate in so much positive comments really puts a smile on my face!

Look forward to the next installment of our Fratelli label sometime next year.



Heading back to Florence in January and can’t wait….

The Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio

For the first time, I will be heading to Italy in January for Tuscany Wine 2014. I have a couple of days on my own in Florence before the action starts and I can’t wait, especially with tips from Emiko Davies for those two days on my own.

The show will be based in Arezzo which is a town I have not been to in Tuscany.

So lot’s of firsts for this upcoming trip to Italy.

A week of Sangiovese: Chianti Classico, Chianti Riserva, Super Tuscans & Brunello di Montalcino

Well sometimes you just have those weeks when you have back to back dinners and because of this, you get to look at some amazing wines. Last week was the case and two of those dinners featured Sangiovese and the best of the best of all styles being made in Tuscany at the moment.

On Monday night, my Italian wine group headed to Mister Bianco to look at Chianti Classico, Chianti Riserva, so called ‘Super Tuscans’ and Vin Santo. On Thursday, a group of Italian wine lovers went to Scopri with the focus of the dinner being Brunello di Montalcino from the 2004 vintage. Two great dinners, 32 Sangiovese from Tuscany and some pretty amazing food all matched to the wines.

One of the key lessons I learnt from this two dinners is that Sangiovese can be so different depending on the age you drink them and the context as well. Some of the 2010 Chianti Classico’s and 2007 Chianti Riserva’s that I loved at Vinitaly looked all over the shop on Monday night with the biggest crime being way too much oak. As much as I love Chianti Riserva, it almost seems that the person selling oak barrels to Montalcino in the ’90’s has left and moved to Chianti Riserva.

Too many wines showed extreme levels of oak without the fruit intensity to match the oak levels. I must admit to preferring Chianti Classico over Chianti Riserva on the night and those that know my tastes, know how much I love Chianti Riserva. To say I was disappointed is a big understatement and I can’t wait to revisit these wines in five years time to see if the oak has fallen into balance with the fruit. For me, the best wine in this bracket was the 2007 Poggerino Chianti Riserva.

On Monday night, we also looked at some fantastic 100% Sangiovese (but not classified as Chianti Riserva) and also Super Tuscans. These wines looked good with the 2001 Isole e Olena Cepparello and 2001 Percarlo delivering complex wines without the excessive oak of so many Tuscan reds.

It wasn’t the greatest bottle of Cepparello I have had and I think the best Cepparello is still the 1997 or 1999 vintages. Time will tell and to me Cepparello has moved to a slightly more modern style in recent years. I will be interested to see what the 2009 and 2010 Cepparello is like when they land in Australia to see if things are back on top.

Finally on Thursday night we looked at 16 Brunello di Montalcino from the 2004 vintage. Overall the wines showed so well with one of my favourite producers in the world, Fuligni again showing the way with a classical standard 2004 Brunello and an amazing 2004 Riserva. It was a bottle of ’90 Fuligni which made me consider Brunello as one of Italy’s ‘greatest wine styles’ and this dinner again showed why I am now back in love with Brunello.

For me the best Brunello reminds me of Burgundy. They are fragrant, medium red in colour with depth of fruit and velvety tannins that make these wines live for years. It was a stunning dinner with food and wine delivering to the highest standard.

The only disappointment was a slightly corked bottle of 1971 Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino that still had some fantastic fruit lurking below that cork taint.

It will be a quiet week this week and over the next month whilst the craziness that is Christmas descends on everyone.  I can’t wait to jump back into these dinners that highlight certain styles or varieties in early next year.

Vinitaly Day Two: Calabria,Campania and Tuscany (Chianti Classico)

Today was one of the reasons why Vinitaly is so important for wine importers from places so far away like Australia: to be able to go from Calabria to Campania and finally Tuscany (Chianti Classico) all in one day was worth the 30 hours on a plane just for that.

In Campania I visited our new producer for Mondo Imports, Salvatore Molettieri and tried through three vintages of each wine.

Salvatore Molettieri stand in Campania Pavilion: Vinitaly 2012

I also had time to visit our Calabrian producer ‘Le Moire’ who makes a small of amount of wine with passion and dedication that I find quite inspiring. His 2011 vintages reds look fantastic and I can’t wait to show these wines in Australia.

From their I moved to Tuscany and tried three a number of different Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva’s from all the benchmark producers that find their way to Australia. I loved the standard 2009 Chianti Classico and 2007 Chianti Riserva’s. These are stunning vintages for these two wines.

Tonight I am looking forward to a hearty meal and finish (or maybe start) the night with a Spritz in Piazza Erbe which is exactly what I did last night…

Spritz in Piazza Erbe (Verona)

Tomorrow I will do Franciacorta and Brunello di Montalcino.

From the Langhe to Tuscany and finally to Radda in Chianti…

Radda in Chianti

Today was a big day of driving. A few wrong turns along the way added about an hour to my trip. I finally arrived in Radda in Chianti around 3pm and checked into my hotel before jumping in my car again and driving about 30km to San Gimignano. The stress of driving evaporated as soon as I entered the town’s walls.

The towers of San Gimignano

And when in San Gimignano, an ice-cream is a must…

Finishing the afternoon with a Gelati

This is one of the reasons why I am excited about heading back to Italy….

In two weeks time I will be back in Italy and based in Barbaresco for a week before heading into Tuscany and then onto Vinitaly. For me the Langhe is the mecca for food and wine in the North of Italy.

Other than visiting some pretty amazing vineyards, there will be plenty of eating the specialities from the region…

And it goes without saying, when in Milan….

I will updating my blog daily when I am away and I hope you enjoy. There will be many great people, great bottles and great food along the way.

Isole e Olena Cepparello 2007

I love the 2007 vintage in Tuscany. I am a traditionalist at heart and the vintages that show exactly how a grape variety should look to me is the perfect vintage. Vintages like 2006 for Tuscany may be rated higher by many wine scribes around the world, but for me it shows Sangiovese at the riper end of the fruit spectrum. Whilst not as extreme as, say the 2003 vintage, 2006 has producers wines that are ripe, and many that are extracted and a tad dried out.

On the other hand 2007 as produced many classic wines, that showcase the savoury characteristics and tannin profile of how serious Sangiovese should taste like. Furthermore, they will age an absolute treat.

The 2007 Isole e Olena Cepparello first grabbed my attention at Vinitaly this year when I tasted it with Paolo di Marchi. It was seamless, well balanced and had loads of the typical Sangiovese complexity. Well finally this wine is available in Australia and it doesn’t disappoint. I had drunk it over three days and each day it has got better and better.

On night one, it was tight, focused and gave nothing away. So much so, that after half a glass I put the screwcap back on (note is bottles under a IGT denomination so Paolo can use screwcap) and stuck it back into my wine cabinet.

On night two, it had opened up beautifully and I had to stop myself from drinking the remainder of the bottle. It reminds me of a better version of the 2004 Cepparello and should age a treat.

Tonight it has gone up another level and offers layers and layers of complexity with beautiful Sangiovese tannins and an intoxicating perfumed nose. Is this Tuscany’s best red? Well it would go close.

However, I must make the point that there has been a slight move to make (intentional or otherwise) Cepparello a more modern style. For me it is still traditional in profile, but I would like to keep a lid on how far they have pushed it. Would it be an even better wine at 1% less alcohol (it is 14.5%)? Well maybe, but we can only judge what we have in the glass.

Drink from 2017-2025+

If there is one wine critic who covers Italy like no other it is Antonio Galloni and for me he is a reference point for all Italian wines. Here is his note from The Wine Advocate:

The 2007 Cepparello (Sangiovese) makes a case for itself as one of the finest wines ever made at Isole e Olena. It is an open, sublime Cepparello endowed with tons of clarity and definition. The ripe red fruit floats on a core of refined, silky tannins that caress the palate with exceptional elegance and finesse. As the wine sits in the glass its inner perfume gradually emerges, leading to an eternal, beautifully crafted finish. The ripeness of the vintage is beautifully balanced by the acidity that is the trademark of Sangiovese grown in these hillside plots. Simply put, this is an utterly thrilling wine that will be a joy to follow over the coming years. In many ways, the restraint, elegance and polish all suggest Cepparello is the Haut-Brion of Tuscany’s high-end, pure Sangioveses. The 2007 Cepparello was fermented in wood uprights and saw three weeks of contact on the skins. Malolactic fermentation took place in equal parts steel and French oak. The final blend was assembled and the wine was subsequently aged in French oak barrels (1/3 new) for 18 months. Proprietor Paolo De Marchi describes the 2007 season as one where periods of heat alternated with well-timed spells of rain. Overall temperatures remained warm (but never extreme) throughout the year, which allowed the fruit to ripen evenly. Still, it was a challenging vintage, and De Marchi was forced to carry out a stringent selection in his vineyards. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027. 96 points Antonio Galloni

Finally for a look into the history of Isole e Olena, here is Jancis Robinson take on it:

Isole e Olena, two adjacent clusters of old stone buildings in the west of the Chianti Classico zone, are twin estates whose names are world-famous thanks to the efforts of the charismatic Paolo De Marchi, who arrived on these family properties from the north 30 years ago. He was immediately at the forefront of Chianti’s much-needed search for improvement in the clones of Sangiovese, planting and experimenting with a wide range. He was also one of the first to grow Syrah in Tuscany and has long had a reputation for varietal Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon – which can be difficult to ripen fully at this altitude. The 1999 is exceptional. Cepparello is the name of a small stream that runs through the estate and the wine is a selection of some of De Marchi’s best Sangiovese, grown at around 400 m altitude. The wine is aged in a mixture of French and American oaks of different ages. Jancis Robinson

The fantastic Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2007

If I had to pick between ‘indigenous varieties grown in the region they originate in’ or ‘international varieties grown in certain regions outside their traditional home’, I will nearly always go for the former. However, there is exceptions to the rule and the wines of Tenuta San Guido fits this exception perfectly. San Guido’s flagship wine Sassicaia and their second wine Guidalberto are magical wines that speak more of the uniqueness of the place rather than grape varities. To read more about Tenuta San Guido and Guidalberto click on their website: http://www.sassicaia.com/

Last night we matched this wine with a homemade Porcini Risotto and it went down a treat. With young wines like this, I like to drink it over 2-3 days to see how it will evolve. I will have another glass tonight and then the remainder with the balance of Cape Grim meat that I have for lunch on Saturday.

Fast forward: Saturday 9th July: this wine is still holding true to for, and I have no doubts that it will age remarkably well. Medium bodied with fruit complexity and Italians tannins to burn. Lovely wine.